I’m the first to admit that my thumb isn’t even the slightest bit green. My husband, on the other hand, loves anything and everything to do with plants. Over the past few years, he has taken up gardening and gotten our whole family involved. Although I still have a lot to learn, it’s been so much fun watching our kids learn how to grow their own food. Of course, getting to enjoy delicious home-grown fruits and veggies is an added bonus.
Benefits of Gardening for Kids
Not only does gardening teach our kids about healthy foods and how they are grown, but it helps them to understand patience and the value and reward of hard work. It can also teach valuable lessons in problem solving, as there are usually several challenges during a growing season. And in addition to these important life lessons, it’s a great excuse to spend time outdoors and work together as a family.
Tips & Tricks for Gardening with Kids
Make a Gardening Plan with Kids
Possibly the most important (and sometimes the most difficult) part of gardening is deciding what to plant. A great way to get the kids involved from the start is to ask for their input on what to plant. Before making a decision, it’s best to research when and where certain foods will grow best. Collin County is Zone 8a on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map—here’s a super utilitarian yet extensive list of produce to plant and when. At this stage you can also determine the type of garden that will be best. In smaller backyards container gardens or raised beds are a great option.
Start a Small Garden
Gardening takes lots of patience as well as trial and error. If this is your first attempt, start small. Each year, you can add more. Our first year, we started with only a few tomato plants and herbs. Fast forward several years, and my husband has tilled up a huge chunk of our yard and has a full-fledged garden going on.
Give your Child One “Important” Task
Delegate one important task for your child to be in charge of, whether it be a whole plant or just carrying the tools. The responsibility of being in charge of something will mean a lot to them. It will also (hopefully) keep them focused long enough for you to tend to other garden tasks.
I think the most fun part of gardening with kids is checking on the plants every day. I love the way their faces light up when they see that the plants have grown. Monitoring progress and taking notes on what to change or improve next year is an important part of gardening. (Get a gardener’s logbook!) When you ask your kids for their input, it also teaches everybody a thing or two about problem solving.
Enjoy the Harvest
When the fruits and veggies are ready to eat, work together to come up with fun ways to cook them and incorporate them into meals. Let the kids look up recipes and try different ways to eat each food. Our kids love helping us cook with the fresh vegetables they’ve helped grow. There’s just something about veggies you grow yourself that makes them taste better.
Not only is gardening beneficial in teaching us about hard work, problem solving, and patience, but it can also be a lot of fun. We can’t wait to see the fruits of our labor (literally) later this summer. What do you plan on growing this year?